Not to Miss Insights of RUFADAA Law

Uniform Law Commission (ULC) developed Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) law is a legal framework that provides guidelines to develop a digital estate plan and to ensure hassle-free disclosing of digital assets as per the digital estate plan under a legal process. In total, 50 states in America have adopted RUFADAA by revising as per their federal framework. In this blog, we present some highlights of RUFADAA law.

States that adhere to RUFADAA

Alabama Hawaii Michigan New York Tennessee
Alaska Idaho Minnesota North Carolina Texas
Arizona Illinois Mississippi North Dakota Utah
Arkansas Indiana Missouri Ohio Vermont
California Iowa Montana Oklahoma Virginia
Colorado Kansas Nebraska Oregon Washington
Connecticut Kentucky Louisiana Nevada Pennsylvania Washington DC
Delaware Maine New Hampshire Rhode Island West Virginia
Florida Maryland New Jersey South Carolina Wisconsin
Georgia Massachusetts New Mexico South Dakota Wyoming

Highlights of RUFADAA

Defining Priority to digital asset access
RUFADAA is applicable to fiduciary after the user’s death, and the attorney will execute the dispersing of digital assets, irrespective of the fact whether the user has last will or digital estate plan drafted. In dispersing digital assets RUFADAA follows a three-tiered approach:

  • In the allotment of digital assets, the attorney gives utmost priority to the user guidelines mentioned in the custodian’s tool in distributing digital assets. Some of the online tools are Inactive Account Manager of Google and Legacy Contact of Facebook.
  • If the tool isn’t used, then precedence is given to the user guidelines mentioned in the last will or power of attorney.
  • If the user failed to provide any guidelines, then the attorney considers the online service provider’s terms and conditions of service and accordingly discloses the assets.

Categorizing Digital assets Access
RUFADAA has a clear demarcation on what digital assets include and conditions in disclosing. It primarily considers three sorts of categories in digital assets access:
Access to the contents of digital communication: Includes the subject line and text of email messages.

  • Access to the list of digital communications: Includes message dispatcher name, the email address, date & time. This doesn’t include the inside contents of the email.
  • Direct access to digital assets: Images, data of the email, access to the user’s system (e.g., photos, videos, material stored on the user’s computer or the cloud, etc.).

Categorizing Digital Assets
Most of the users get confused about how to go ahead with digital assets mentioning in the last will. Custodian must help users. RUFADAA presents to custodians following aspects in assisting users:

  • Check if the assets are assigned to someone after death or not. Then determine whom to handover, as not all assets can be handed over to family or friends. If the user is a working professional, then the user will not be permitted to share assets assigned as part of the work.
  • Check if the user wishes the executor to read out the matter in the messages or private postings in social media. It is mandatory to make the acceptance clause in the last will.

Conditions for Revealing Deceased User Data
The custodian can disclose the data or digital assets information of the dead user to authorized personnel representative, only if the user has mentioned in the last will the permission to unveil data. If not mentioned, the representative must provide to the custodian with the user’s death certificate, testamentary letters copy, or court order. If custodian wants to access data, then the custodian needs to provide the attorney with the document that’s nominating custodian and share a declaration document that asserts the inevitability to disclose user digital assets or communication content.

Directions for Agents
The instructions for agents to access the data assets are the same as that of personal representatives. After getting the mandatory citations, the custodian must reveal the contents of user communications immediately without fail. The principal’s power of attorney explicitly provides the agent with the authorization to access the content.

Directions for a Trustee.
Let’s say, if the user himself is the trustee, then custodian can provide access to all digital assets with no doubt. If the user is not a trustee, then based on the access criteria, access rules to data will vary.

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